Business As Mission, Poverty, and Epistrepho!

Even though this work week was a short one, I experienced many different events that continues to demonstrate to me that I am moving in the right direction. I made mistakes, had some victories, but all-in-all I learned several life lessons. I was telling someone the other day my story. In 1977 I had a very clear call to move to the Pacific Northwest. In 2008, I had a very clear call to retire from the Boeing Company and begin teaching fulltime at Warner Pacific. However, when it comes to my upcoming retirement, 5/31/2018, I did not have a clear sense of call or direction. I know myself well enough that I did not want to just play golf, travel, and get fat. I know I need something a bit more academic and mission oriented to give my final years on this earth meaning. Every day the next call gets a little clearer.

I would like to share with you the Kingdom Impact Statement for the Epistrepho Business Group. The name of my activity is a work in progress. I am not totally satisfied with this title. The kingdom impact statement states that “we support for-profit business and economic development internationally, for-profit small business development nationally, and locally we will work for the development of individual skills to improve employment opportunity. All this will be done under the umbrella of Business As Mission. The question is why do I want to do this?

I have had the opportunity to travel around the United States and Internationally. Every place I go I see the need for business development that will employ people at a fair wage, therefore helping them have a flourishing life. In the United States many jobs go unfilled because people do not have basic, or advanced, skills that will help people attain the careers needed for a full life.

I have traveled to Russia, Kazakhstan, Mexico and Honduras and observed first hand the need for for-profit economic development. In Kazakhstan I was able to observe the hangover of decades of Communist rule that continues to impact the people’s innovative and entrepreneurial spirit therefore hindering the country from advancing at a faster pace. In Honduras I saw a desire, but the lack of resources due to many different issues such as corruption, greed, and selfishness. However, I saw a wonderful spirit in the hearts of people who want to be productive. Somehow I want to support that.

To prepare for whatever comes my way, I am reading and planning. I am also listening to my wife. I truly believe without for-profit businesses there would be no ability to help people in need. This is why I want to focus strictly on for-profit endeavors. Venezuela is a public laboratory where we can observe the effects of a command economy which adheres to a socialist political system. Many people in that country do not like what the government is doing, but the government is starving its people in a way that “Food is controlled and votes are bought, food is used as a political weapon and is at the center of the hurricane” (Mary Anastasia O’Grady, WSJ). Through for-profit businesses we can fight corrupt governments and poverty in a way that can give people hope for the future.

Another way that I want to provide hope is by addressing the two Americas. According to Angus Deaton and Anne Case, who were both interviewed at a recent WSJ CEO Council their research has demonstrated that people with at least a Bachelor’s degree are doing well, while those without are not thriving. According to Anne Case, drug overdoses, suicide, and alcoholism is increasing for people without bachelor degrees, and the continued decrease of heart disease has stagnated. All of this, in my way of thinking, can be connected to the inability to have a good paying job. I want to impact that, and to do that I will be using the umbrella of Business As Mission (BAM).

BAM adopts a holistic development approach. In a paper from Lausanne.org BAM is described as a “sustainable holistic approach by mission agencies, development agencies, and business.” It also operates on a premise of business being a force for good. Even Henry Ford once said “A business that only makes money is a poor kind of business.” My experience tells me that people who work in business want to do good, but sometimes the drive to make money gets in the way. Therefore, the motive needs to change. Practice wealth creation, but use that wealth creation to deal with the many social issues facing our society. As Lausanne states, “Economics is a fundamental sphere in the process of social development and without it human existence could not be feasible. From a scriptural perspective, human life should be oriented by specific values, the values of the kingdom of God. Therefore, any aspect of social life must be evaluated in the light of such criteria.”

I don’t know where this goes from here. I know that through my future endeavors I want to provide individuals with the skills they need to work and be employable, I want to help create for-profit kingdom businesses in the United States, and I want to do the same internationally. I think that will make for a fulfilling retirement.

And that is my thought for the day!

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